Design


A very interesting blog post on the FT about changes in the fashion industry caught my attention and I wanted to share the most subversive etail initiative I have ever heard about. 

www.honestby.com is the brainchild of Belgian designer Bruno Pieters. The site will sell a collection of 56 pieces for men and women. But what is groundbreaking about it is its transparency. It is transparent both financially and in terms of manufacturing.

By the time you press “buy” you will know exactly what you are paying for – everything from the material used, weight, who spun it, whether it is organic, a website for the supplier and so on – and you will find this for the fabric, the zipper, the lining, the trim, the label, the buttons, the thread etc. Under “price information” you will find out the cost per meter of the fabric, how much was ordered, how much was used, how much labour was involved, what the mark-up was, and how the profit was used.

High-end fashion has historically been a business built on opacity. Things cost what they cost and the less the consumer knows about the literal value of these, the better off the brands are and the more they can charge. It is precisely this attitude that Bruno wants to change as he thinks it breeds consumer mistrust – and why he wanted absolute clarity in his own brand. He has even gone so far to have said that if orders go up and he achieves economies of scale, his prices will come down.

It seems to me this has the potential to be a real game-changer in fashion, because if consumers get used to having this sort of information available, who knows, maybe they could start demanding it from other brands…

@natfut

honest-by

The world can be full of contradictions and online stores going offline is another example. Some of the biggest names such as eBay, Amazon and Google are leading the way back to traditional roots.

With commentators at the start of last year announcing the end of ‘bricks and mortar’ stores, what is the reason for this fast turnaround? In my humble opinion it is the shopping experience. Love them or hate them physically stores can (I emphasise can) give a more fulfilling and satisfying experience than offline. I realise that online shopping is quick, simple and saves fighting the crowds but who has not bought something online and then been disappointed either because of the fit, look or size? We have all been there.

‘Bricks and mortar’ stores allows customers to touch, try and god forbid socialise with others which is just not comparable to the online shopping experience. However as we are all aware the online experience is hardly on the decline with record online sales this Christmas. In December, Amazon announced that 1.4 million orders had taken place on their website on Cyber Monday alone and on Christmas day itself 186 million pounds was spent online in the UK. Shopping online is quick, easy and hassle free, so it is no wonder that traditional offline stores are turning to non-traditional means to encourage shoppers in-store. House of Fraser is luring customers into their stores by offering free WiFi in-store; Marks and Spencer’s ‘brick and click’ campaign combining in-store and e-commerce offerings as well augmented reality changing rooms at Topshop that save queuing for the changing room.

It seems that the lines are blurring and both traditional and new retailers are seeing the benefit of each other’s position.

topshop

@t_bloore

How social technologies breed solo shopping – at least in the real world

The days of meeting up with friends and going on a shopping spree are long gone. With so much choice brought about by the increasing number of ecommerce platforms, retailers introducing more ranges online, and the growth of social technologies,applications and contactless payment systems, serious shoppers have drifted from the pack and prefer to go it alone.

Today, if you ask – “does my bum look book in this?” – you’re more likely to be ‘BBMing’ a picture to your friends, getting ‘liked’ on Facebook, or checking out real-time personal shopping apps than asking a friend who is actually shopping with you. That’s because any opportunity can be a purchasing opportunity. Whether you’re on your smartphone, visiting a supermarket or perusing Facebook, the opportunity to buy and price-check a range of goods in real-time is at your fingertips making it even harder for traditional retailers to make that initial sell, cross-sell, and most importantly getting customers into stores.

We’ve heard more regularly over recent months about the decline of the high-street and the future need for physical stores continues to be questioned. In recent years online fashion retailers such as ASOS and Net-A-Porter have done a good job of removing what some would describe as the stressful in-store experience and have brought the changing room right into your home – all of which has been done seamlessly, particularly when returning items. This in turn has made retailers think more strategically about the in-store experience and customer service they want to provide for shoppers in order to differentiate from online.

The most valuable part of any fashion store is the window display and the right-hand side of the shop as you walk in as it is what draws people in. These areas need to be stocked with bestsellers, new lines, adverts, packaging and items promoted in the press. Generally anything visible from the front of the shop should be high profit or popular items, and presented in an exclusive fashion so if your size is out it will bring out the animal instinct in you to hunt it down until it’s yours.

Highstreet retailers such as Topshop have also done a lot in recent years to try and keep shoppers in stores for as long as possible by offering different services. In the flagship store on Oxford Street, for example, you can now visit the nail bar, blow-dry salon, have your eyebrows threaded, grab a coffee and buy sweets while also doing your shopping. 

Customer service as always continues to be high priority for both stores that sell on commission and those that don’t. If sales assistants don’t say “hello” to customers who walk into stores like Reiss, Whistles and Hobbs, they’re likely to be pulled up for it. A recent and indeed very irregular visit to River Island, ahem, saw six different sales assistants approach me to ask how my day was going in literally under two minutes of entering. The need to appear helpful and make intelligent cross-sell recommendations is indeed a valuable differentiator compared to online, particularly when the customer feels they are getting that little bit extra when it comes to service.

Personally, from a serious shopper’s perspective, cool mobile apps are great for quick viewing, but online doesn’t have the same buzz for me that walking into a store does. Nothing beats seeing a sea of colours, fabrics, textures, coordinating items and ‘store models’ in real life. Obviously there are exceptions. However, as much as I enjoy the experience of walking into a store, shopping alone is definitely more suited to my patience levels. I’m also quite happy to BBM a picture to my friends and get their opinion that way rather than having them waiting around for me on the other side of a dressing room curtain.

@LucyDesaDavies

We are back again to make sure you are up to date with all things DERTy (Digital, Entertainment, Rights and Technology) from the week just gone.

We hope you find some of the weird and wonderful things from this week’s news and Twittersphere of interest. If you have any comments on any of the points below we would love to hear them.

Until next week…

Digital Entertainment

The reality of seeing things in 3D

We’ve got some serious bits in DERTy Talk this week, for which we apologise. But there is more to a Digital and Entertaining life than Angry Birds and Angry Bird Art. There is. We promise. And so the first story is from the IHT regarding the *surprise* that Mars Needs Moms has flopped at the box office. “Tens of millions” in losses are expected of this film that cost $175 million to make. 3D fatigue is setting in. Or is it? Brookes Barnes cites various reasons for the failure. Firstly, saturation – the movie comes off the back of a busy 3D animation season – Rango, Gnomeo and Hop). Secondly – cost. The 3D price tag means going to the cinema isn’t a cheap activity for families; faced with so many movie options some movies are bound to be left behind. Finally – the performance of Moms could be the death knell for ‘Zemeckis’ style animation. Basically unlike the clever bods at Pixar, the Zemeckis approach includes filming live actors then putting them through the computer. It’s the same style used on Polar Express and it’s not to my tastes. It’s kinda creepy. These three reasons aside, the glaringly obvious thing here is perhaps Mars Needs Moms just isn’t a very appealing tale. This should be a wake-up call to an industry that seems to think that celeb + animation + 3D is a guaranteed success formula. It isn’t. Just look at the bastardisation of Yogi Bear. Quality of the story has got to come first.

Hold me closer Tinie Tempah

clip_image002[6]Apologies for the lame headline, we’ve been listen to Elton a lot recently. What we actually wanted to talk about was Tinie Tempah the Facebook GAME. It’s basically the same game concept as Canabalt (which is awesome, btw) and Mirror’s Edge on iOS (even more awesome – though DISCLAMINER we do work for EA mobile). The futuristic-mash-up background is nicely sketched (reminds us of the lovely doodles by Andrea Joseph for Cross Pens) and the game is simple and easy. Crucially each level is soundtracked by one of Tempah’s album tracks. It’s not big. It’s not clever. But it’s a little bit of fun and is driving some good numbers to Tempah’s Facebook wall.

Product placement

clip_image002[18]With the relaxing of product placement laws, Chanel 4 and New Look have announced their first deal. New Look clothes will feature in catwalks on the channel’s T4 show and they will also have sponsorship branding. This tie-up makes a lot of sense, as the teenage market is increasingly hard to target it is nice that another string has been added to the marketers bow. This is likely to be the first of many announcements in this space so we will keep you updated…

Inside Out
image
Or Analogue meets Digital. It feels a bit crass to categorise this as simply ‘entertainment’ but it’s a beautiful project that is so very well put together. Spare four minutes and watch the video to get a better view of exactly what this project is and where it came from, but in essence it’s a photography project of a huge scale that looks to get people from around the world working together. People are challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to share untold stories. The images are digitally uploaded, turned into posters and then sent back to the creators to be placed wherever they like. When you watch the video you’ll see exactly how brilliantly this has come to life. It’s all being documented and archived so that it’s viewable virtually. All in all a lovely project with a nod to the beauty of a physical photo.

Rights

You’re e-book is overdue
This week HarperCollins announced that it’s to put a life span on its e-book content. Currently due to hit those readers in Canada, the publisher is limiting each e-book to 26 ‘check outs’. Effectively this gives an e-book a usage time of 12 months before it self-destructs. The new restriction to the DRM set up makes clear business sense, on paper, but it’s arguably a pretty heavy handed approach which is hard to justify when you consider how many years a physical copy of a book might last. An interesting landmark in modern rights management, but not a vote winner for HarperCollins.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/03/08/f-vp-misener-ebooks.html

Walk Towards the Light

An interesting feature in NMA today, and the first of many we expect, looking at UltraViolet. Exciting times ahead for consumers – when digital and physical content can be passed from screen to screen and between members of the house hold. (DISCLAIMER: our Edelman colleagues in the US have worked with DECE, the consortium behind UltraViolet).

Technologies

Google Wedding

Google is taking city mapping to the next level by rendering a 3D route plan of the Royal Wedding procession in London. Whilst it isn’t quite up to the same levels as The Getaway London it is an interesting example of how much mapping has come along in recent years. Some people will be very excited about this, indeed the Telegraph ran an article on it as did the Independent. http://bit.ly/emPrWa

Creative Play

Think – Work – Play.com is a space for London creatives, opinion formers and thinkers to share with others tips of the trade. You can get an insight into the latest creative concepts running in the city. Including the latest project in the East End http://think-work-play.com/boxpark-shoreditch/

 

 

Tweets from the team

@LukeMackay Skype screen-grab art. Very funny (via @trendhunter and @GerryWisniewski) http://bit.ly/hijy31

@LukeMackay A brief history of movie title design. Lovely. http://bzfd.it/eJS3hH

@LukeMackay Really beautifully done RT @motherlondon: Well, this is nice:http://youtu.be/DIArJjU8HjE

@LukeMackay The internet is dead. v. v. interesting read from #SXSWhttp://bit.ly/fqb8Wo

@AJGriffiths: News Corp jumps on the ‘social gaming’ band wagon. Sound a bit clueless. http://bit.ly/g0NSnN

@AJGriffiths: Silicon Alley insiders – really interesting profile in the FT http://on.ft.com/gWxLf6

Welcome! This is the first edition of a regular weekly update on all things DERTy (Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology).

We hope you find some of the weird and wonderful things from this week’s news and Twittersphere of interest. If you have any comments on any of the points below we would love to hear them.

Until next week…

Digital Entertainment

clip_image002Jennifer Aniston and Smart Water
In an area where you see a lot of things branded as ‘viral’, but are in fact adverts which companies want you to pass on, it was a refreshing change to see a company do it really well.  I clicked on the link from Twitter with low expectations but what appeared was Jennifer Aniston promoting Smart Water in a really clever and innovative way.  The campaign has received literally hundreds of positive article, over 4 million views on YouTube and there is a lot of buzz around the campaign on Twitter.  Admittedly they had a high profile celeb to help them get this coverage, but I still think they have hit the nail on the head.  If you haven’t watched it already I strongly suggest a quick look.

clip_image004Intel reinvent art
We’ve been admiring Intel’s creative projects (such as the Creators Project) for a while.  This week the Remastered exhibition was launched “to explore the relationship between art and technology and celebrate its role in inspiring modern creativity as part of its Visual Life campaign”.  Interesting stuff.  Whether or not this art is reimagined or reinvented – a lot of the exhibits look very interesting.  Nice YouTube preview here.


clip_image006Equal Pay Day
People used to forge masterpieces – and Dougal Wilson’s vid for Benni Benassi’s Satisfaction happens to be a masterpiece of Noughties dance vids. So now here’s Raf Reyntjes lovingly-crafted recreation of the video – with an important difference. This time round, the girls are a bit older. Which makes it very funny – or hard to watch, depending on how you feel about seventy year old ladies wielding power tools whilst wearing hot pants. It’s all for a perfectly good cause, thankfully: Equal Pay Day. In fact, it’s a stonking way of highlighting the important issue of inequitable gender wage differentials. In Belgium.

And here is the original http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5bYDhZBFLA – Spot the difference?

clip_image008Spyro the Dragon gets real wings.
We’ve been a fan of Spyro for a long time (in a former life Luke worked on the little purple dragon of joy and can often be found wearing a purple dragon costume at the weekend).  So it was with fiery excitement that we read about Activision’s real-world tie-ins for the new Spyro game.  There’s a great overview on the Telegraph.  The box copy of the game will ship with real-world peripherals that unlock features and interact with the game.  Interesting stuff – and not unlike the chess scene in Star Wars (in our heads’ anyway).  This demonstrates that particularly for youth audiences digital entertainment is not just virtual but is also tangible.  Moshi Monsters are illustrating a similar approach with a range of real-world products that unlock items in the virtual environment.

Rights

clip_image010

Warner Bros bring film to Facebook
Those living Stateside will soon be able to rent films through Facebook thanks to a new deal between the social network and Warner Bros. Users in the US will first be able to rent The Dark Knight for $3/30 Facebook credits – and there lies the interesting bit. At the moment Facebook credits don’t mean much to the majority of users, but with the Warner Bros. deal sure to be the first of many, we might be about to see Facebook’s virtual currency step up a gear. It also brings into play everything people have theorised around ‘social viewing’ as now people will be able to easily integrate all of the usual Facebook functions around movie content. Sounds like an exciting test bed, watch this space.

Technologies

clip_image012Well Funded Birds
The company behind everyone’s favourite mobile game – Angry Birds – today announced a $42m round of funding to expand its franchise and develop new titles. This comes in the same day that it was announced the game was also heading for Facebook. Considering Rovio claim to have already made $50m from game sales, they must have some big plans up their sleeves. So prepare to be watching Angry Birds the movie and getting an Angry Birds soft toy in your stocking come December.

Tweets from the team

· Transmedia alive and kicking it seems RT @powertothepixel: Fourth Wall Studios raises $15m for cross-media productions http://lat.ms/goM1ft

· Fear and Rango in Las Vegas. Uncanny resemblance…http://bzfd.it/gg55S2

· Black Swan trailer – the Habbo cut. Very cool (Habbo a client) http://youtu.be/ggQa-5T5UqQ via @juzu17)

· Interesting RT @mashable:Who’s Really Scanning All Those QR Codes? [INFOGRAPHIC] – http://on.mash.to/i5bio3

· Never commit a crime in Strathclyde http://bit.ly/hl0oeI (via @shortlist)

following Monday’s insight from the analyst community on the trends and expectations for the year ahead (check out the full post here), we thought we’d have a bash ourselves at predicting the future. so here are our suggestions for the year ahead – let us know whether you agree with us, or think we’re miles off the mark…

(also – to anyone reading this in December, you have *not* got an eye condition; those floating white dots across the screen are snow. it’s festive.)

…and we’re putting together a mobile special in case you think it’s a bit thin on mobility right now – watch this space in Jan for the 2011 mobile outlook according to Edelman Tech…

Predictions for 2011:

Larry picks a fight…with God

Larry Ellison will never be accused of being the shy retiring type. In fact one of the well known legends is that he bases a lot of his modus operandi around ‘The Art of War’ and over the years he has picked a fight with pretty much everyone in the industry. Bill Gates, Ray Lane, Craig Conway, Tom Siebel and more recently SAP and HP. Frankly there isn’t anyone really left to fight so the speculation surely must be that the only person worthy of a challenge is God. Given the old joke – "What’s the difference between God and Larry Ellison?…God doesn’t think he’s Larry" – this may not be the case.

Facebook emerges as a powerful content player

Just a stab in the dark, but I’d hazard that before 2011 is out we’ll see Facebook commissioning its own content – or co-creating content at least. The ‘Like’ function is powerful – whether for selling products or amplifying conversation around content. We know that young audiences are watching more online. I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook will start working closely with production companies to push something like KateModern into stratospheric proportions – the first social entertainment blockbuster.

‘Do no evil’ Google becomes ‘Bad Google’

In some respects it seems almost stereotypical that a company that was once the darling of the industry is now beginning to look over its shoulder, as the mutterings begin to increase. Like Intel and Microsoft before then they have incurred the wrath of the regulators and how the company reacts next year will be interesting to watch.

Hopefully it will have learnt from the mistakes of others, but there’s the danger its senior leadership team has drunk a little too much of the ‘Kool Aid’.’There is no doubt that the ‘noughties’ belonged to Google and today it remains one of the key drivers of the IT industry, but it needs to sustain that growth to justify its market cap. As a result its moved into a number of different areas with mixed results…Google Wave (#fail), Android (#successtodate), GoogleTV (#waitandsee). Similarly it has had the high profile embarrassment around China, which has severely dented its reputation and competitors like Facebook, Youtube and even Microsoft are beginning to make in-roads on its heartland. 2011 may be a sticky year for Google.

We will all be buying coffee via our mobiles by the end of next year

Whether paying for stuff with your mobile, buying online credits, or using Square we’ll be seeing a lot more money changing hands, without touching hands. Much of the rest of the world already is – Africa and Asia are well ahead of Europe and US in this field, (indeed Gartner predict that 60% of this market in 2011 will be in Asia). But there is some key technology coming that will make phones that much smarter and make it that much easier for us all to get involved. Google has confirmed the next version of Android will support NFC (near field communication) chips, and it’s rumoured that iPhone 5 will have this functionality in-built. Nokia and RIM are both also expected to follow-suit.

Creative Agency "ownership" of social media

This year the classic PR v marketing battle was augmented by the arrival of "customer services" onto the scene. The range of customer and support services using social media to support their communications and contacts has led to them claiming ownership (and budget). A valid claim (like all the rest).

Next year customer relationship management (CRM) will join the fray under the moniker "social" CRM, linking customer databases with social media to define whether, when, how often, on what medium companies communicate with their customers.

I see loads of privacy and "ownership" issues but for any company who gets this right it could be huge.

There are however always pitfalls, and twitter is flooded with examples of companies ‘doing’ social media very well and responding to customers and issues, but the actual customer service department in the clients’ back office not following up. To avoid this becoming a fad or people losing faith in social media platforms as a channel, companies need to place the same focus on the back office customer services departments as they do in keeping pace with an external zeitgeist.

Gamification of Life

There’s a lot of chat about the ‘gaming of everyday life’. Truth is ‘social games’ like Farmville  actually aren’t very social (people tell their friends there are playing, but are they playing with friends and telling others? I think not). FourSquare is often touted as the best example of the gamification of life but personally, I don’t think it is a very good game.

To its credit I think it’s a very promising form of direct marketing and I’m sure we’ll see more coupons next year. More interesting – if more niche – social games are playthings like Chromoroma. These sorts of initiatives will continue to garner interest from the press and trend watchers. Whether or not they will engage enough people to become ‘mainstream’ is perhaps unlikely.  But in a game of influencing the influencers – this sort of creative approach will be a top scorer.

Murdoch will just give up with his paywall.

Personally I think it’s all a little too little too late – the industry has sat back and watched itself be destroyed – news on the internet will be, and will always be, free. If you can’t get what you want from The Times you’ll go somewhere else to find it. The quality argument, for me personally, doesn’t stack up, people generally will accept a lower quality if it costs them nothing.

Mobile and application based news might be a short-term saviour, and there will be winners and losers in this area next year. It’s perhaps true that people are prepared to pay for innovation and the novel – but even then, the future of the mobile experience looks set to be a browser/cloud based model. Mobile applications will go the same way as desktop applications at some point in the not too distant future (let’s say 2013 for arguments sake).

News will become hyper-local & hyper-social. A location based service will join forces with a news site for location centric news – what’s happening where you are right now….. bringing you nearer to……

……‘Where’s that ambulance going?’

I don’t think 2010 has quite been the year of location, as many though it might be. Less than 4% of mobile users are using this feature. It’s growing though and expect next year – with the rise in popularity of Foursquare and Facebook places (sorry Gowalla you missed the boat) – for the term “where am I now” to be more popular than ever.

Combine this with the fact that media is looking to innovate, to tap into the power of social, than I can see a very logical next step to be a combination of owned and user generated news to be pushed to users based on location.

What is happening in the world you’re in right now. Whether this is in combination with one of the aforementioned services or a plug-in to a site like the BBC, Digg or the Guardian, I think we’ll start to see this as a powerful service. Indirectly, this may then only serve to fuel citizen journalism, as people are alerted more easily to incidents / events happening close to them.

Someone will figure out how to give everything, no matter how small, an IP address

Long shot this one, and is based on boozy conversations with colleagues on the outerweb and the internet of things, that this could be the next big breakthrough – giving everything a link to the internet.

This could be as simple as me seeing a sofa or salt shaker and “liking” it in real time or adding instantly to an Amazon wish list via a connection to my smartphone. It will happen, perhaps not next year, but it’s always good to have an outlandish prediction – and hell most food products do now have a link to the web via barcodes.

Videogames will shift from products to entertainment services

By the end of 2011, most blockbusters games will turn into an subscription-based service instead of releasing a new iteration each year (i.e.: the Call of Duty franchise). We’ve already seen this happening with the Steam platform offering games as uploads, and annoying retail outlets in the process, but the next year could see this become even more prominent. Gamers are currently predominantly ‘owned’ by their console (although multi-console owners are increasingly more common), but game manufacturers could see a niche in the market for tying them into series through exclusive uploads, game advances and new episodes. Given the dedication the most successful games generate, this would seem a seamless next step.

Cloudy outlook;  another year of unfulfilled promise, the return of hardware storage, and Everything-As-A-Service?

Seriously, can someone just make the cloud revolution finally happen? It’s been on everyone’s lips for years – YEARS – but is 2011 the year the cloud actually becomes the tech saviour it’s lined up as? Granted, there are already plenty of services claiming ‘cloud’ services, but on closer inspection many of these are simply network servers – can we finally envisage a true cloud? If we are to do so, the main obstacle is going to be keeping such services reliable and absolutely, unrelentingly secure – it’s the security issue which has held adoption up in many instances.

And if the security issue does remain unconquerable, we could perhaps see the return of hardware storage with servers and SSDs, as the perceived risks around cloud computing create too many anxieties to warrant full adoption.

If the cloud DOES finally break loose, expect ‘EaaS’ – Everything-as-a-Service – a growing offers with more collaborative tools and more complete applications to be proposed; everything becomes “on demand” with the cloud.

Social media will finally arrive in the enterprise

We’ve already witnessed the growing adoption of social media in the enterprise – for both internal and external usage – and we can expect to see more of the same as IT decision makers start to impact the business strategy discussions.

Once the C Suite understand the role social media plays in business, and how it can (positively) impact business efficiency, we’ll see this boom. Social media is currently viewed as a distraction to staff, but once this misapprehension is dealt with, and its proper adoption, integration and monitoring is understood, enterprises will rush to get involved.

The key issue which needs tackling in 2011 is to dispel the perception of social media adoption being simply an ‘allow or deny’ decision. It is simply not that black and white, and different employees require differing access and controls. The workforce coming into industry now is that which has grown up with the likes of Facebook, and they’ll expect the same in business – and if they don’t get it, they’ll find a way around security to use it none the less. “Allow or deny” is no longer a valid debate.

and the consumerisation of IT won’t be restricted to social media…

…Bring-your-own

We can’t get enough of having a familiar device in our pocket, even in the workplace – we’re moving into the age of ‘bring your own’- your own technology, that is – into work. With more Millennials/Generation Y/the L’Oréal generation, whatever you want to call them, coming into the workplace, we’ll see a shift in the technology we use and how we use it altogether. Businesses will support the idea – in theory. Employees using a familiar device has the obvious efficiency advantages. However, whether organisations, and infrastructure, will be able to support alien devices is another thing. After all, there’s the usual security, technical, data protection and legal issues that cloud computing has been dealing with for years. It will certainly be a step in the right direction, but we may very well get there at a snail’s pace.

with thanks for the following for contributions:

@RogerDara

@cairbreUK

@LukeMackay

@JustinWestcott

@LucyDesaDavies

@wonky_donky

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